The Taiwanese minister suggests Honduras demanded a “dear price” for preserving relations with Taiwan over China.
Taiwan’s foreign minister has accused China of involvement in Honduras’s plan to transfer diplomatic allegiances from Taipei to Beijing, while also suggesting the Central American country had demanded a “high price” for ending relations with Taiwan to maintain.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu’s remarks on Thursday came a day after Honduras denied it had demanded $2.5 billion in aid from Taiwan before announcing a plan to establish relations with China.
Beijing views self-governed Taiwan as its own territory and has stepped up efforts to win over just 14 countries that maintain formal diplomatic ties with the island.
Speaking to reporters in parliament, Wu said the situation with Honduras was “not very good”.
“The signs of Chinese involvement are obvious,” he said. But the island will not engage in dollar diplomacy with China, Wu added.
“We have entered a very difficult phase,” he said. “But we will work hard until the last minute.”
When asked about Honduras’ alleged $2.5 billion aid request, Wu said “the other side demanded a high price,” but did not directly confirm the Reuters news agency’s claim.
Citing a source familiar with the situation, Reuters reported on Wednesday that Honduras had demanded aid money from Taiwan the day before Honduran President Xiomara Castro tweeted that her government would seek to establish relations with China.
China’s foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the island’s allegations of involvement in Honduras’s impending severance of diplomatic ties.
Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina told Reuters the $2.5 billion amount was “not a donation,” but rather a request to buy the country’s national debt.
The minister has previously said Honduras’ decision to switch ties with Beijing was partly because the country was “up to its neck” in financial trouble and debt, including $600 million it owes Taiwan.
The move also comes after Honduras said it was negotiating with China to build a hydroelectric dam on the Patuca River, part of a three-dam plan. China has already invested $298 million in the first dam in eastern Honduras, which was inaugurated in 2021.
Wu, answering a lawmaker’s question on Thursday, said Honduras owed money not only to the island. “We have told them before that the debt they owe us can be adjusted,” he said.
Honduras has yet to formally end ties with Taiwan, but diplomatic sources in Taipei say they expect it to be only a matter of time. That would leave the island with diplomatic relations with only 13 countries.
The crisis in Honduras comes ahead of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Guatemala and Belize, which remain Taipei’s allies, beginning next week.
Tsai will stop in New York on the way there and Los Angeles on the way back, where she is expected to meet Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy.
Wu, asked to confirm that meeting, said it was still in the works.